Harvest gets underway Sunday night, August 11 at J Vineyards in Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. Grapes are being harvested for sparkling wines. Photos: George Rose

Harvest gets underway Sunday night, August 11 at J Vineyards in Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. Grapes are being harvested for sparkling wines. Photos: George Rose

Back-to-back outstanding vintages praised by winegrowers & winemakers

throughout Sonoma County’s 16 AVA’s

By Sean Carroll, Sonoma County Winegrowers

November 14, 20013 — With Sonoma County’s 2013 harvest season now complete, many winegrowers and winemakers are touting this year’s exceptional quality seen throughout our 16 AVA’s. The region experienced another ideal growing season that was long and provided moderate temperatures for grapes to ripen at the optimal speed. The result is another stellar vintage defined by clean, outstanding fruit characteristics with balanced acidity, tannins, and sugar levels.
This year’s harvest started slightly earlier than previous years on August 9, and the pace quickly sped up towards the end of August and throughout September as many varieties (white and red) ripened at the same time, including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and some Zinfandel. This created some issues for tank space inside wineries, but winegrowers and winemakers were able to work together to ensure picking schedules and quality remained unaffected. This rapid pace allowed harvest to end for most around the last week in October, roughly two-to-three weeks earlier than normal seasons.
After last year’s record breaking crop size, it seemed unlikely that 2013 would follow suit. But, early reports show that this year’s harvest could be another big sized crop. It’s still too early to know for sure, but one thing is evident: 2013 is another banner year for quality. Some are already calling it a “phenomenal, outstanding” vintage for Sonoma County.
“2013 delivered another exceptional harvest in Sonoma County. After the bounty of 2012, many were skeptical whether or not Mother Nature would bestow kindness two years in a row. However, 2013 is shaping up to be an outstanding vintage in both quantity and quality. Harvest came early, was very compacted, ended almost three weeks early across the county and still delivered excellent quality.” – Karissa Kruse, President of the Sonoma County Winegrowers.

Here are some quotes from the “front vines” of several of our AVA’s:

“Winemakers continue to believe that the quality of the 2013 fruit is outstanding. Great colors extraction from reds, no weather related rots to contend with; just about perfect in all respects.” – Duff Bevill, Founder & Partner at Bevill Vineyard Management

Alexander Valley

“Fruit quality this year has been very good. The heat spell we had right before harvest didn’t cause any damage to speak of. We did see some shriveling of the tips of the clusters in our later harvested fruit. Wine quality in the tank, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, has been excellent.” – Brad Petersen, Vineyard Manager at Silver Oak Cellars & Twomey Cellars, and Sonoma County Winegrowers Chairman

“It was fast and furious and at times felt like we could barely hold on, but worth the price of admission. The reds might be out shining the whites at this point. Dark, vibrant color of the reds are mesmerizing. Pinot has been pretty outstanding, delicate and full, showing great early. There was a lot of sugar which translates into abundant alcohol so the Sauvignon Blanc are a little more developed than I’d like but with blending we can get them back in balance. Zinfandel is dark and beautifully perfumed. All and all stellar vintage” – Susan Lueker, Director of Winemaking at Simi Winery

Dry Creek Valley

“A few scares with rain had us scrambling early on in the harvest but our fears did not come to fruition. The rains we did see were minimal and were followed by steady winds that dried the grapes. We came through the vintage unscathed and with some excellent grapes in the tank. The wines promise to be delicious and will be the perfect complement to the quality we saw in 2012. Cabernet Sauvignon are going to be stellar. We at Dutcher Crossing expect the wines to be lush and dense with great complexity.” – Matt Ward, Winemaker’s Assistant at Dutcher Crossing Winery.

Knights Valley

“One of the best on record. Steady growing season with no major weather events. It was a little shocking to have such a strong year with so little rain early in the year. You can never tell what nature will give you, but I am sure happy that it gave us 2013! Our Cabernet Sauvignon is showing excellent concentration and complexity.“ – Tim Carl, Managing Partner, Knights Bridge Winery

Russian River Valley

“With the fantastic weather throughout the season the fruit quality was excellent with very little sunburn, raisining or rot & the ability to achieve optimal ripeness. This year our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley stands out for their excellent quality.” – Mick Schroeter, Sonoma-Cutrer Winemaking Director

Sonoma Valley

“2013 harvest allowed for back-to-back exceptional Sonoma County vintages across the board. Fruit was the cleanest and ripest (phenolically and maturity) in the last five years. Quality was enhanced with brief heat spells followed by cool days that allowed for full development of flavors. The skins and seeds were as ripe as you wanted them. There were definitely above average yields but in some respects it acted as a blessing as it allowed the fruit to slowly ripen and develop ideal flavors. The success of the vintage was not unearned as we had to deal with two weather systems that gave us unwanted precipitation. We were extremely fortunate that winds and heat followed to eliminate any potential issues.” – Steve Sangiacomo at Sangiacomo Family Vineyards

“Unlike some of our more recent past vintages, 2013 kept us on our toes, moving fast and furious. No hurry up and wait this year. It was go, go, go! The growing conditions couldn’t have been better. We had a wealth of sunshine and consistently warm days and cool nights, giving fruit ample time to develop full, rich flavors with great color and balance. We picked fruit from all over Sonoma County, specifically Sonoma Valley, Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Rockpile, Green Valley, Russian River Valley and Carneros, and we were tremendously pleased with the high quality of fruit from every region.” – Chris Louton, Winemaker at St Francis Winery & Vineyards


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